Illegal campaigning rules also apply to non-candidates — Comelec

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Illegal campaigning rules also apply to non-candidates � Comelec
People look at the voters' list at a polling station during the nationwide village and youth representative elections in Manila on Oct. 30, 2023. Security forces were on high alert across the Philippines on October 30 as millions of people voted for village leaders following months of deadly poll-related violence.
AFP / Jam Sta Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reminded that illegal campaigning, such as vote buying also applies to people involved in the campaign but are not candidates.

John Rex Laudianco, Comelec spokesperson said that there are still candidates for the Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay elections (BSKE) and several individuals who are doing campaigns through other means such as giving “sample ballots.”

The polling regulatory body mandated the duration of the campaign period for BSKE from October 19 to October 28. Campaigning beyond the said dates is considered illegal campaigning. 

“Isang mariin na paalala po hindi lamang po yung kandidato 'yung kakasuhan namin kundi kahit sinong taong lalabag sa illegal campainging rules,” Laudianco said in a PTV interview on Monday.

(A strong reminder that we will not only file charges against the candidates but also against any individual who violates illegal campaigning rules.)

Illegal campaigning extends to distributing "sample ballots" or flyers bearing the candidate's name near polling precincts, a common practice among candidate affiliates.

According to the Comelec, the penalty for vote buying and selling will be one to six years of imprisonment, deprivation of the right to vote, and perpetual disqualification from holding office.

These penalties can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the offense and the discretion of the Comelec.

Laudianco said that Comelec retains the authority to pursue election offense charges, even after a candidate has been proclaimed for office. 

“Makakaasa po kayo sa pamamagitan ng ebidensya na naipadala ng ating mga kababayan sa kanilang mga sumbong ay magsasampa kami ng kaso ng petition for disqualitfication bago pa namin sila maproklama, o kung maproklama man sila tutuloy po namin ang pagsampa ng election offense,” he added.

(You can expect that through the evidence submitted by our fellow countrymen in their complaints, we will file a petition for disqualification before they are proclaimed, or if they are proclaimed, we will continue to pursue charges for election offenses.)

On October 27, Comelec chairman George Garcia said that the poll regulating body is in the process of verifying over 100 confirmed cases of illegal campaigning activities. — with reports from Cristina Chi, Kristine Daguno-Bersamina.

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